August 22, 2007
The Thousand Dollar Lawyers
Posted by Lisa Fairfax

The Wall Street Journal reports that several top New York lawyers are set to break the "fee barrier" and charge an hourly rate of $1000 this fall.  The move is viewed as a significant turning point because it could generate a critical mass that other law firms would feel comfortable following.  Indeed, while a few lawyers already charge the four-figure hourly rate, apparently many law firms and lawyers were reluctant to do so not only because of concerns about worth and client willingness to pay such rates, but also for psychological reasons.  Thus, several lawyers' rates have hovered just shy of the $1000 mark--anywhere from $900 to the apparently more acceptable $995 an hour.  The WSJ article did indicate that some clients appeared reluctant to cross the thousand dollar threshold in fees.  However, the article pointed out that many others would rather pay for a high-priced, but experienced partner, than a high-priced, but seemingly less experienced junior attorney, suggesting that the problem in legal fees is not at the top, but at the bottom with the rise in entry level salaries and fees.

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